Tag Archives: Lorenzo Cain

2018 MLB Free Agency Projections

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It’s almost that time for the free agency sweepstakes around Major League Baseball. Next month’s Winter Meetings will be telling of how the off-season will go as deals will be made, but he is a look at some free agents and their potential landing spots during the off-season.

1. Eric Hosmer-First Baseman

In seven years with the Kansas City Royals, first baseman Eric Hosmer always had a nose for making the big play. In 2014, Hosmer came up big for the Royals in helping the franchise reach the postseason for the first time since 1985 as he would provide clutch hits coming down the stretch of the regular season as well as in the playoffs. And after the Royals fell one victory short of winning the World Series in 2014, Hosmer would emerge as a leader in 2015 to help Kansas City win it all.

In 2011, Hosmer finished third in the American League’s Rookie of the Year Award voting as he batted .293 with 19 home runs and 78 runs batted in. Hosmer is coming off of his best season at the plate as he hit .318 with 25 homers and 94 runs batted in. But Hosmer’s biggest contributions come courtesy of his solid glove at first base.

Hosmer is a four-time American League Gold Glove Award winner who acts as a vacuum at first base due to his ability to suck everything up. Hosmer just turned 28-years of age last month, and as he is in the prime of his Major League Baseball career, his glove, along with his leadership will be hot commodities on the free agent market over the winter.

Prediction: Boston Red Sox

2. Jake Arrieta-Starting Pitcher

Jake Arrieta

After starting pitcher Jake Arrieta spent the first six years of his Major League Baseball career as an afterthought, he made a name for himself in 2015. Arrieta enjoyed a breakout campaign by going 22-6 with a 1.77 earned run average to help the Cubs reach the National League Championship Series, and in the process he would take home the NL Cy Young Award. Arrieta would follow this up by going 18-8 with a 3.10 earned run average in 2016 to help the Cubs win the World Series.

But Arrieta would not be as effective this past season as he was 14-10 with an earned run average of 3.53. Arrieta has only thrown at least 200 innings in a season once as his durability comes into question. However with a thin market for starting pitchers over the winter, Arrieta should be able to cash in.

Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers

3. Yu Darvish-Starting Pitcher

In 2012, starting pitcher Yu Darvish bursted onto the Major League Baseball scene with a ton of hype. Darvish came to MLB as a prized free agent from Japan, and he would get his opportunity in the United States with the Texas Rangers who won a bidding war for his services. Darvish’s finest season with the Rangers came in 2013 when he went 13-9 with an earned run average of 2.83, while he struck out 277 batters. Darvish would finish second in the American League Cy Young Award balloting as the Rangers fell one victory short of qualifying for the playoffs.

Since then Darvish has been hampered by injuries which included him being forced to miss the entire 2015 Major League Baseball season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Darvish is an up and down pitcher, and he missed the opportunity to really solidify his chances of really striking it big in free agency.

This past July, Darvish was traded by the Rangers to the Los Angeles Dodgers as he was expected to help them with their postseason push. Darvish would make nine starts for the Dodgers during the regular season and he went 4-3 with an earned run average of 3.44. Darvish would help the Dodgers win the National League West, while they would reach the World Series for the first time since 1988. But in the World Series, Darvish would get rocked by the Houston Astros.

In two starts in the Fall Classic, Darvish would post an earned run average of 21.60 as he only managed to last 3.1 innings which included him not being able to get through 2 innings in Game 7.

Darvish is 31-years of age, and although that he has injury issues on his resume as well as a bad performance in the World Series, the lack of quality starting pitchers heading free agency will help his chance to earn a contract this winter.

Prediction: Texas Rangers

4. J.D. Martinez-Outfielder

After being an afterthought with the Houston Astros for three years, outfielder J.D. Martinez came into his own with the Detroit Tigers in 2014. That season Martinez would bat .315 to go along with 23 home runs and 76 runs batted in to help the Tigers win the American League Central. For Martinez’s career with the Tigers, he would hit .300 with 99 homers and 285 runs batted in.

The Tigers finished this past season tied with the San Francisco Giants for the worst record in Major League Baseball which resulted in them having a fire sale. In July, Martinez was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks and he would become vital to their push to the postseason.

In 62 games with the Diamondbacks, Martinez would bat .302 with 29 homers and 65 runs batted in to help Arizona reach the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

For the season Martinez would bat .303 with 45 home runs and 104 runs batted in as he only played in 119 games. Martinez is 30-years of age, and he picked the perfect time to get hot at the plate. However with many teams around Major League Baseball shying away from overpaying sluggers in free agency, Martinez might have a hard time finding a new team to play for in 2018.

Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks

5. Jay Bruce-Outfielder

After outfielder Jay Bruce spent nearly nine years of his Major League Baseball career with the Cincinnati Reds, he has bounced around over the last two seasons. With the Reds in the middle of a rebuild, they traded Bruce to the New York Mets in 2016. At first Bruce was ice cold at the plate as he found himself “pressing”. However Bruce would get on track coming down the stretch as he helped the Mets secure the top wild card spot in the National League.

Bruce started this past season with the Mets as in 103 games with the club, Bruce batted .256 with 29 homers and 75 runs batted in. However the injury bug would get the Mets this past season, and once they fell out of contention, Bruce and his expiring contract became expendable. The Mets would trade Bruce to the Cleveland Indians and in 48 games with the club, he would hit 7 homers, while driving in 26 runs to help Cleveland win the American League Central for a second consecutive year.

Bruce will be 31-years of age when the 2018 Major League Baseball season rolls around, and he falls into the category of a player that can used in multiple roles. Bruce is primarily a right fielder, but he can play first base, as well as being a designated hitter for an American League club which will make the pursuit of him during the winter rather interesting.

Prediction: Los Angeles Angels

6. Wade Davis-Relief Pitcher

After Wade Davis spent the first five years of his Major League Baseball career as an up and down starting pitcher, he found his true calling in 2014 as a relief pitcher. Late in the 2015 MLB season, Davis became the full-time closer for the Kansas City Royals after an injury sidelined relief pitcher Greg Holland. Davis would save 17 games for the Royals and he came up big during the postseason as Kansas City was able to win their first World Series Title since 1985. Davis would save 27 more games for the Royals in 2016 before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs prior to the start the 2017 MLB season. With the Cubs, Davis was able to save 32 games as he helped them win the National League Central.

Wade Davis

Now Davis will hit free agency at the age of 32, while he is one of the premier closers in the game. Davis won’t get a long-term deal, but you can bank on him getting a contract within the three-to-four year window. And with the importance of a needing strong bullpen being more prevalent than ever, Davis should get paid handsomely this off-season.

Prediction: Houston Astros

7. Mike Moustaksas-Third BasemanĀ 

This list is littered with players who helped the Kansas City Royals win the World Series Championship in 2015, while also suiting up for the club this past season. And you can add another player to that list in third baseman Mike Moustakas. Moustakas was the second overall pick of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft by the Royals and he has been with the big club regularly since 2011. Moustakas struggled to begin the 2014 season which resulted in him being demoted to Triple-A, but upon returning to the Royals, he was a different player.

Moustakas batted .284 with 22 homers and 84 runs batted in during the 2015 Major League Baseball season to help the Royals win the World Series. And after an injury plagued 2016 season, Moustakas came back very strong in 2017 to have the best year of his career. Moustaskas batted .272 to go along with 38 home runs and 85 runs batted in while also earning his second All-Star Game appearance.

Moustakas 29-years of age, and although he is not a player that can carry a team, he is someone who’ll fit nicely into the middle of the lineup for a contender, while also giving them leadership as well as championship experience.

Prediction: Los Angeles Angels/San Francisco Giants

8. Neil Walker-Second Baseman

Throughout the nine-year Major League Baseball career of second baseman Neil Walker, he has been “Steady Eddie”. Walker has a career batting average of .272 to go along with averaging 20 homers and 80 runs batted in per season. And aside from being a solid hitter, Walker backs this up with a good glove in the field.

The last two years have been injury filled for Walker as he has combined to miss 98 games. And even though that Walker is 32-years of age, the fact that he can contribute to a team at the plate as well as in the field will lead to him finding a new franchise to play for this winter.

Prediction: New York Mets

9.Eduardo Nunez-Shortstop/Third Baseman

Eduardo Nunez

There are not that many quality utility players around Major League Baseball which means that when a solid one comes down the pike, he will be in demand. Infielder Eduardo Nunez has been in MLB since 2010 and he has bounced around as he has suited up for three different teams. But with Nunez’s ability to play shortstop, second base, and third base, teams will love to have his services and versatility.

Prediction: Boston Red Sox

 

10. Lorenzo Cain-Outfielder

Lorenzo Cain

Lorenzo Cain is another one of those players that was a key contributor to the success of the Kansas City Royals, but now it is time for him to hit free agency. In eight Major League Baseball seasons, Cain is a lifetime hitter who can provide a contender with leadership in the clubhouse as well as a solid glove in the outfield who can play multiple positions.

Prediction: Cleveland Indians/New York Mets

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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Struck While The Iron Was Hot

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After nearly 25 years of futility, the Kansas City Royals broke through to win 86 games in 2013. The Royals won the American League Pennant in 2014 before taking home the World Series Championship in 2015. But immediately following their World Series victory, the Royals would take a step back in 2016 as they went 81-81 and things have gotten worse for them this time around.

The Royals currently are 17-23 which has them in last place in the American League Central as they are 4.5 games behind the first place Minnesota Twins. Even when the Royals won the World Series in 2015, they weren’t a team an offensive juggernaut as they relied on timely clutch hitting to compliment their pitching staff. But as the Royals pitching staff has a team earned run average of 4.24 which is tenth in the A.L., while they are near the bottom of most of the major offensive statistical categories, if has been difficult for them to stay afloat. And although that there is still plenty of time for teams to turn things around for the 2017 Major League Baseball season, that might not be the case for the Royals who are dealing with a harsh reality.

Kauffman Stadium

Kansas City is one of the smaller media markets in Major League Baseball and the Royals team payroll of $155 million on Opening Day this year was 15th in the league. But the foundation of the Royals mini dynasty began to erode immediately after they secured the final out of the World Series in 2015 versus the New York Mets.

Starting pitcher Johnny Cueto and utility man Ben Zobrist were each acquired by the Royals prior to the trade deadline in 2015. Both players were expected to only be rentals once Kansas City’s World Series run came to an end which was the case as Cueto landed a six-year, $130 million contract with the San Francisco Giants, while Zobrist joined the Chicago Cubs to the tune of a four-year deal for $56 million. The exodus continued in Kansas City following the 2016 Major League Baseball season as designated hitter Kendrys Morales would join the Toronto Blue Jays, starting pitcher Edinson Volquez would sign with the Miami Marlins. Outfielder Jarrod Dyson was traded to the Seattle Mariners, while relief pitcher Wade Davis was shipped to the Cubs. But the biggest blow of them all for the Royals came on January 22nd when starting pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in an automobile accident in his native Dominican Republic. And now the only key components that remain from the Royals championship team are first baseman Eric Hosmer, catcher Salvador Perez, third baseman Mike Moustakas, shortstop Alcides Escobar, and outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon. But the reality of the Royals being a small market has once again set in as with Cain, Hosmer, Escobar, and Moustakas are all set to become a free agents at the conclusion of this season as the end of the line is near for a team that enjoyed a meteoric rise.

And this is the reality of the current landscape in Major League Baseball as with free agency, it is difficult for teams to keep their core players for a long time; especially in the smaller media markets such as Kansas City. Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane has been the godfather of this as he’s been notorious for trading players prior to them hitting free agency in order to stock pile prospects in his minor-league system. But unlike Beane whose Athletics have not reached the World Series since 1990, Royals general manager Drayton Moore was able to develop his players, while making the right moves to bring Kansas City the World Series Championship in 2015. Of all of the Royals pending free agents, only one will probably still be in Kansas City when 2018 rolls around. And if the Royals continue to struggle this season, Moore will definitely be ready to wave the white flag prior to the trading deadline.

So when the Royals entered the playoffs in 2014 as a Cinderella wild card that got hot en route to defeating division winners in the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles to win the American League Pennant before bowing out to the Giants in seven games in the World Series, the Royals represented the underdog. However when Kansas City won it all in 2015, they were an established team full of players who were hungry to win it all after barely missing out in the previous year. But now it appears that it will be back to the drawing board for Moore as the chemistry and depth that was there for the Royals in 2015 has faded rather quickly.

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What To Expect In The 2015 World Series

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The New York Mets and Kansas City Royals are four victories away from Major League Baseball’s holy grail.

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2015 American League Central Projections

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X-Detroit Tigers 89-73

The Detroit Tigers have won four consecutive American League Central Division Championships, but they have always fell short of the holy grail which is winning their first World Series Championship since 1984. The Tigers were swept last season in the American League Divisional Series by the Baltimore Orioles and they are hopeful that the title window has not closed for them as of yet. Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski has attempted to build a title contender, but the one thing that has held Detroit back in the past few seasons has been their bullpen. The Tigers bullpen blew 16 games last season and they always appeared to become unglued in the big games.

The Tigers will still have a talented team in 2015, but they are a bit older and they won’t be as deep.

Since last year the Tigers were attempting to lock up starting pitcher Max Scherzer to a long-term deal. But after winning 39 games over the last two seasons and the American League’s Cy Young Award in 2013, Scherzer was looking for a mega deal which he received this off-season from the Washington Nationals. In 2011, Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander was unstoppable as he won the AL’s MVP and Cy Young Award. But last season Verlander was 15-12 with a 4.54 earned run average. Verlander has lost some zip on his fastball, but he has rededicated himself to his craft as he is now 32-years old. Tigers starting pitcher David Price is set to enter free agency next winter and like Scherzer he’ll be looking for a huge payday. It’s not etched in stone that Price will be a member of the Tigers in 2016, but they should get his best effort and then some this season.

Miguel Cabrera

The Tigers still have one of the best lineups in Major League Baseball: it’s just a matter of them staying healthy. Designated hitter Victor Martinez and first baseman Miguel Cabrera are in the process of recovering from injuries. Martinez is 36-years of age while Cabrera will be 32 next month. Cabrera still has one the best swings in baseball, but lower body injuries are beginning to take their toll on him. The Tigers did acquire outfielder Yoenis Cespedes who will be an upgrade offensively and defensively. Cespedes along with his violent and powerful swings will fit right into the middle of the Tigers lineup while he will dare runners to try his strong arm in left field. And if the Tigers are going to make another postseason run you can expect second baseman Ian Kinsler and outfielder J.D. Martinez to have big impacts. Kinsler is the Tigers table setter and with a career .344 on-base percentage he’ll need to get on base in front of Detroit’s big boppers.

Brad Ausmus

In his first season as Tigers manager, Brad Ausmus got his team to the postseason. Ausmus is a former MLB catcher and aside from that he knows that he has a veteran team as he simply stayed out of their way. Ausmus will once again stick to this formula and he is hopeful that this philosophy will lead the Tigers to their fifth consecutive American League Central Title; but more importantly the World Series Championship.

Y-Cleveland Indians 86-76

Terry Francona

The Cleveland Indians have the potential to be a playoff team in 2015, but they would need some breaks while having some things go wrong for other teams in the American League Central. Under manager Terry Francona, the Indians enjoyed a storybook season in 2013 as they were able to make the Major League Baseball Playoffs. The Indians took a step back last season as they finished in third place in the AL Central and they are hopeful to not get lost in the shuffle this season behind the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals.

Francona and the Indians can hang their heads on the fact that they’ll have the reigning American League Cy Young Award winning taking the mound every fifth start for them this season in starting pitcher Corey Kluber. Kluber went 18-9 last season with a 2.44 earned run average and for the Tribe to contend this season he will more than likely need to improve off of those numbers. The main reason that Kluber has to put the Indians pitching staff on his back is due to the fact that there isn’t that much depth behind him which will hinder their chances of contending for the postseason.

Michael Brantley

Offensively the Indians do have talent in their lineup. Outfielder Michael Brantley would be a household name if he played in a bigger market. Brantley hit a career-high 20 home runs last season along with finishing third in the American League in batting average (.321) and second in hits (200). Brantley is in the prime of his career and he should once again put up numbers this season that resemble his production from 2014. Last season was an injury filled one for Indians outfielder Michael Bourn who needs to have a bounce back year for Cleveland. Bourn is expected to be the Indians everyday center fielder while his presence on the base paths is of equal importance as he is always a threat to steal bases. Like Bourn, Indians designated hitter Nick Swisher was limited last year due to injuries. And even at the age of 34, Swisher can still be vital to the Indians due to his overall experience. Indians first baseman Carlos Santana has the potential to be one of the better power hitters in the AL, provided that he comes to the plate with men on base in order for him to be afforded the chance to drive them home.

The Indians have have soft schedule to begin the season and a quick start for them could be just what the doctor ordered as far as them hanging around in the American League Central.

Kansas City Royals 86-76

Last season the Kansas City Royals won 89 games in the regular season and they earned a postseason trip for the first time since 1985. But the real fun began for the Royals in October when they captivated all of Major League Baseball and were one victory away from winning the World Series. The Royals got hot down the stretch in 2014, but what will they be able to do for an encore in 2015 when the other 14 teams in the American League will be gunning forĀ them?

Ned Yost

The Royals weren’t an offensive juggernaut in 2014 as they were near the bottom of most offensive categories in the American League. For Royals manager Ned Yost, the name of the game for his club is speed as they were tops in the AL last season in stolen bases with 153. And that speed will once again be vital in 2015 if Kansas City is going to make it back to the playoffs. Led by second baseman Alcides Escobar, along with outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson, the Royals have speed up and down their lineup. But they will once again have to manufacture runs as they lack power bats.

As stagnant as the Royals offense was last season, their pitching more than picked up the slack. The Royals team earned run average of 3.51 was fourth in the AL and it kept them in ballgames. Starting pitcher James Shields led the Royals pitching staff last season in strikeouts with 180 while also tying for the team lead in wins with 14. But Shields became a free agent over the winter and he signed on with the highest bidder for his services as he is now a member of the San Diego Padres. Shields departure means that more responsibility will be thrust upon the youngster Yordano Ventura in the Royals starting rotation. Ventura is only 23-years of age, but he tied Shields last season in Kansas City for the team lead in victories while finishing sixth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. Last season Ventura flirted with the 200-inning threshold so Yost can trust the youngster and his electric fastball to be there every fifth day.

Led by relief pitchers Greg Holland and Brandon Finnegan, the Royals have a solid bullpen as the folks in Kansas City have their own version of the “Nasty Boys”. Yost knows that he has a strong bullpen as they can and will consistently be able to get the Royals out of jams.

Kauffman Stadium

The Royals will spend the majority of the month of April away from Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. And even if the Royals get off to a slow start, nobody is expected to run away with the AL Central which means that they’ll have a puncher’s chance to get back to the postseason.

Chicago White Sox 82-80

The Chicago White Sox have been a team in transition over the past few years and they are hopeful for an upswing this season. The White Sox lost 99 games last season for the first time since 1970 and thus there have been some changes made. The White Sox bid farewell to longtime first baseman Paul Konerko who retired and thus the South Siders are a team that is in the process of getting younger while also trying to compete in the American League Central.

Jeff Samardzija

Before being traded to the Oakland Athletics last summer, starting pitcher Jeff Samardzjia spent the first six-plus years of his Major League Baseball career with the Chicago Cubs. Samardzija didn’t dazzle with the A’s as he went 5-6 with a 3.14 earned run average in 16 starts. Now Samardzija is back in Chicago, but this time with the White Sox whom acquired him from the Athletics this off-season. In seven MLB seasons, Samardzija has a career record of 36-48 with a 3.85 earned run average, but Ventura and White Sox president of baseball operations Kenny Williams are hopeful that he can provide some depth in Chicago’s starting rotation behind Chris Sale. At 6’6″, Sale is one of the best pitchers in baseball and he’ll be going for his third straight season in which he has struck out at least 200 batters. If Sale is able to get enough run support behind him he’ll definitely garner some interest in winning the AL Cy Young Award this year.

After trading relief pitcher Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the White Sox were tied for 11th in the American League last season in saves with just 36. By himself relief pitcher David Robertson saved 39 games last season for the New York Yankees. And when the Yankees failed to make Robertson an offer this winter, the White Sox signed him to a four-year deal worth $46 million to solidify their ninth inning situation.

Jose Abreu

The White Sox will definitely have some pop in their lineup. First baseman Jose Abreu burst onto the scene last year by hitting 36 home runs, 107 runs batted in and a .317 batting average to be named as the American League’s Rookie of the Year and I don’t expect the native of Cuba to have a sophomore slump in 2015. The Sox signed first baseman Adam LaRoche who will spend the majority of his time in the Windy City being a designated hitter. In 11 MLB seasons, LaRoche has averaged hitting 27 home runs per year, but he has done all of his damage in the National League. Williams also signed outfielder Melky Cabrera who is expected to give the White Sox more offense near the top of their batting order as he has a career .339 on-base percentage.

With the exception of a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles, the White Sox schedule for the month of April will be exclusively against their brethren in the American League Central. April won’t be a make or break month the White Sox as barring any significant setbacks they’ll hang around the hunt in the AL Central race until the very end.

Minnesota Twins 68-94

Paul Molitor

The last four Major League Baseball seasons have seen the Minnesota Twins endure losing seasons and in three of those years they finished in the basement of the American League Central. The Twins futility cost longtime manager Ron Gardenhire his job and he has been replaced by one of Minnesota’s favorite sons. Before embarking on a Hall of Fame playing career, Paul Molitor was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. Molitor attended the University of Minnesota before being drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1977. Molitor spent the majority of his MLB playing career with the Brewers, but he played his final three seasons with the Twins where he collected his 3,000 hit. Molitor was a coach with the Twins last season, but his duties have now shifted as he will be the team’s skipper for 2015.

Phil Hughes

The first order of business for both Molitor and Twins pitching coach Neil Allen will be to improve a Twins pitching staff that had a 4.57 earned run average which was last in the American League in 2014. Twins starting pitcher Phil Hughes did win 16 games last season and he’ll be asked to once be the ace of the pitching staff in Minnesota, but behind him there are a ton of question marks. The Twins will mark the fourth different team in as many years for starting pitcher Ervin Santana who has lost at least 10 games in each of those campaigns. Starting pitcher Kyle Gibson won 12 games for the Twins last season while this could be the last opportunity for starting pitchers Mike Pelfrey and Ricky Nolasco to show what they can do in Major League Baseball. If the Twins starting pitching and middle relievers are able to take care of business through the first eight innings, then Molitor will be able to give the baseball to relief pitcher Glen Perkins in the ninth inning who was one of the top relievers in baseball last season with 34 saves.

Trevor Plouffe

Led by third baseman Trevor Plouffe and second baseman Brian Dozier, the Twins did have one of the top offenses in the AL last season. But for the Twins to really have a chance of contending in 2015, they’ll need first baseman Joe Mauer to regain the form that made him the AL MVP back in 2009. At 39-years of age, outfielder Torii Hunter is returning to the Twins where he began his career and he’ll look to be an additional coach on the field.

If nothing else the Twins will play hard for Molitor in 2015, but the lack of talent there will have them on the outside looking in when the postseason rolls around.

X-Division Champion

Y-Wild Card

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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